Deficit to dip on promised reforms

The Finance Ministry promised that Greece will abide by European Union rules and bring down the budget deficit within the eurozone limit as it sent off a copy of the country’s fiscal outlook to Brussels yesterday. Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said that the deficit in 2006 will be slashed from 6.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) last year to 3.6 this year and 2.6 percent in 2006. «The progress we have made will lead the deficit to below 3 percent for the first time since entering the eurozone,» said Alogoskoufis. The minister explained that the government will able to cut the deficit by tidying up public finances and implementing structural reforms. «It is exceptionally rare in all of Europe for a country to achieve such a budget adjustment while keeping growth rates high and reducing unemployment,» the minister added. Greece has one of the fastest growing economies in the EU but jobless numbers have remained stubbornly high. Alogoskoufis added that the Economy and Finance Ministers’ Council (Ecofin) in January is likely to decide whether Greece can securitize 1.5 billion euros of overdue tax debt for 2006. Economists have welcomed the government’s attempts at cutting the deficit but have expressed concern about the negative impact the spending cuts could have on the economy. Brussels is expected to comment on the fiscal outlook sent yesterday in its autumn report expected on November 17.

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